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    Natural gas rates to increase 3% today


    December 2, 2022 - MEREDITH PEACHEY Staff Writer

     

      Effective today, Thursday, Dec. 1, UGI utilities' purchased gas costs rates will increase by 3.1%.

      The increase means an average $119 residential heating bill will jump to $123.

      "We recognize that higher energy prices directly impact customers, especially those with limited or fixed income," UGI media representative Joseph Swope said.

      To combat the price increase, UGI offers several customer assistance programs.

      "First, we encourage and assist eligible customers to apply for LIHEAP grants, a federally-funded program that provides grants to help pay customers' energy bills, repair equipment, etc.," Swope said. "UGI also offers a customer assistance program (CAP) that bases the customer's energy bill on household income and ability to pay."

      UGI also provides a weatherization program to assist with insulation and other energy-saving efforts as well as Operation Share, a company and customer-funded grant program.

      "I encourage any customer who has difficulty paying their bill to contact UGI (or) to visit www.ugi.com/customerassistance and see what assistance may be available," Swope said. "The worst decision a customer can make is to simply not pay their bill and not contact the company. Contacting the company will allow customers to determine what assistance may be available based on their specific circumstances."

      Customers could also see an increase March 1, 2023.

      "UGI can adjust its purchased gas cost (quarterly) in March, June, September and December," Swope said. "Any changes are based on the wholesale price of natural gas. UGI does not make a profit on the cost of the natural gas."

      A year ago, the average cost for a residential heating customer was $98.31. To date, the average cost is $123.28, representing an increase of approximately $25 per month. The latest price increase is due to commodity costs for almost all fuels continually increasing, including the wholesale cost of natural gas.

      "All energy prices have seen significant upward price pressure over the past year," Swope said. "Pennsylvania residents are paying more for their electric service, the gasoline to run their car and other heating fuels such as fuel oil. Unfortunately, natural gas has been affected by these same wholesale price increases."

      In a news release, Chris Brown, UGI vice president and general manager of rates and supply, shared that prices in Pennsylvania are lower than in other parts of the country because of local Marcellus Shale production.

      "Despite this increase, natural gas remains a very economical energy choice backed by local, reliable shale gas supplies," Brown said.

      Swope concurred with Brown, noting the way Marcellus Shale production impacts the natural gas bills of Pennsylvania versus other areas.

      "The primary reason is that Marcellus Shale gas can be found literally under the feet of many Pennsylvania residents," Swope said. "Significant natural gas production takes place in the northern and central portions of the commonwealth, in many cases within UGI's service area."

      A portion of the cost to purchase natural gas includes the cost of transporting the gas from the point of production to the customers. The fact that UGI receives a significant portion of its natural gas supply from within Pennsylvania reduces the cost of transportation through interstate pipelines.

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